About: Exotic live species
- According to the advisory, the phrase “exotic live species” includes animals named under the Appendices I, II and III of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
- It does not include species from the Schedules of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972.
- Approximately 5,800 species of animals and 30,000 species of plants are protected by CITES against overexploitation through international trade.
- As per new Environemtn Ministry advisory, people importing “exotic live species” will have to make a voluntary disclosure.
- The Centre intends to streamline the process by officially identifying those handling such species or involved in their legal trade, as per mandates of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which India is a signatory to.
Need for the move:
- The move comes as the outbreak of COVID-19 has raised global concern about illegal wildlife trade and zoonotic diseases.
- As of now, the imports are being made through the Director General of Foreign Trade and State Forest departments are not kept in the loop. Often these species are illegally trafficked into the country to avoid lengthy documentation and scrutiny.
- While import of live exotic animals is covered under Customs Act in India, wildlife experts have long been asking for stringent laws and guidelines to document and regulate numbers of exotic species being kept as pets by individuals and breeders in India.
- Another problem is that, once the species are in the country, people can claim ancestral holding of these species — meaning that a particular species is the progeny (child) of animals they brought in before India became a signatory to CITES.
Features of the new mechanism:
- Those intending to import have to obtain a health certificate from the national health agency of the country of origin from where the species is being brought, indicating that they are free from any diseases, and also carry health cards for each exotic species being imported.
- For new “exotic live species”, the importer also has to obtain a no-objection certificate from the Chief Wildlife Warden ( CWLW) of the State.
- For existing exotic live species in India, the advisory gives a period of six months (from the date of the official order) for voluntary disclosure to be made before the chief wildlife warden of each state.
- The concerned authorities need to take note of submissions, ensure the safety of species, and avoid contact or breeding with any indigenous species.
- The new mechanism will ensure that genuine importers do not suffer and all levels of the government machinery are aware of the exotic species present in their jurisdiction.
- The regulations will act as deterrents for both, buyers and sellers and will go a long way in curbing illegal exotic wildlife trade in India.
- It will also allow the government to have an overall control over the possible zoonotic disease transmissions.
About: Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT)
- Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) is an attached office of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and is headed by Director General of Foreign Trade.
- It is responsible for formulating and implementing the Foreign Trade Policy with the main objective of promoting India’s exports.
- The DGFT also issues authorisation to exporters and monitors their corresponding obligations through a network of 36 regional offices.
- The regional offices also facilitate exporters with regard to developments in international trade, i.e. WTO agreements, Rules of Origin and anti-dumping issues, etc. to help exporters in their import and export decisions in an internationally dynamic environment.
About: Chief Wildlife Warden
- State governments exercise complete administrative control over all statutorily recognized forests and other government-owned lands in the country.
- The State Forest Department is vested with the task of administration and management of forests, including wildlife reserves. State Forest Departments are headed by Principal Chief Conservators of Forests (PCCF) who are officers of the Indian Forest Service (IFS).
- The Chief Wildlife Warden (CWLW) is the statutory authority, under the Wildlife Protection Act, who heads the Wildlife Wing of the department and exercises complete administrative control over Protected Areas within a state.
- Every Protected Area is typically classified as a Wildlife Division and is headed by a Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF).
- CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, also known as the Washington Convention) is a multilateral treaty to protect endangered plants and animals.
- It was drafted as a result of a resolution adopted in 1963 at a meeting of members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The convention was opened for signature in 1973 and CITES entered into force in 1975.
- Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten the survival of the species in the wild, and accords varying degrees of protection to different species of plants and animals.
- Participation is voluntary, and countries that have agreed to be bound by the Convention are known as Parties. Although CITES is legally binding on the Parties, it does not take the place of national laws.
- Instead, it provides a framework respected by each Party, which must adopt their own domestic legislation to implement CITES at the national level.